Me, captured shortly after I last wrote
Guest post by Snydes (Sara) Clark Griswold and the fam
Hello, world! I'm backkkkkk! Thanks to Pats-a-licious for letting me hijack the blog again.
I'm so grateful-ish for all of the love, responses, and kind notes that you have given to me via the greatly gratefully and gracious blog on which Patsy inspires us all. I won't make this long and overdrawn, I'll keep it simple and to the point.
Summer is filled with many a thing: BBQ's, flowery dresses (see picture to your right), and most importantly, family vacations. As Tom and Katie Holmes' marriage comes to an end, it's important to reflect on the meaning of family...we all know that Suri Cruise, despite the dysfunction her parents must inflict on her, will likely turn out semi-normal, much like myself.
But anyway, back to family vacations.
I just returned home from an amazing 12 day trip to Israel with 13 members of my family. In addition to the Snyder gang, we also were traveling with 275 of our nearest and dearest fellow Pittsburghers on an organized trip that toured us day and night all throughout Israel. Essentially, imagine your favorite National Lampoons' movie family, the Griswolds, and multiply the insanity by 1000, and BAM, there you've got it - that's my family vacation in a nutshell.
Being that I'm still completely jet-lagged and haven't had the proper amount of time/sleep to comprehend all of the amazing things that I felt & saw & heard on this trip, I'll take you all on a photo safari (or whatever the equivalent Israeli version of such a thing is) of our family vacation. Hopefully, if this blog does nothing else, it helps make you all salivate in jealousy that I ate hummus for 3 meals each day for 12 days and you didn't. The End.
Jetlag perk: Seeing the sunrise in Tel Aviv
A spoonful of [hummus] helps the medicine go down?
Just your usual Thursday afternoon Flashmob in the streets of Israel
Notes in the Western Wall
Family style family dinner
Floatin' in the dead sea
Peace in the middle east - l'chaim!
Guest Post by Sarah M of Saturday’s Story
Hi there Grateful Lifers! I’m Sarah, a college acquaintance turned reconnected buddy of Trish’s so happy to be with you guys here this fine Friday. Fridays, ah. The cusp of the weekend with the anticipation and excitement of Saturday awaits each of you. (I’m a huge fan of Saturdays if you couldn’t ascertain that already.) Residing in New York City is my jam and along with my husband Lee and growing a baby at the moment, here’s a peek into my current vibe these days…
I’ve been a “downtown” gal for almost 5 years now. Downtown living is youth, the newest antique pawn shop turned tapas restaurant
, the perfectly hidden & darkened wine bar around the corner. It’s street fashion that equates to Chanel bags meets St. Mark’s $8 sunglasses meets Toms meets Tods. It’s art students and bankers and yogis and more. And it is + became everything
I dreamed of when taking that leap of faith back in August of 2006 when life was extremely uncertain and I was hanging my rent check on the 50/50 gamble of a job.
But like all good stories (excluding Peter Pan), somewhere in between the summer nights on the roofdeck and countless west village evenings out, I grew up in a major way…unashamed of the pang of change I knew was brewing. I was feeling this itch to get uptown (and my husband was too.) I was pining for that quasi-suburban feel where a kid friendly museum was the afternoon activity of choice and Mom’s whizzed by in their joggers with babies in tow. We strolled along the Upper West Side some spring day of 2011 and something clicked. Our eyes said it all. Our linked arms conveyed the thoughts we shared. The quiet tree lined streets and Bugaboo strollers caught my heart’s attention. I wanted to be a part of that, no no...I even in some way *needed* that. And we sat in Central Park commenting for the bajillionth time that “isn’t it crazy how you get this slice of peace in the heart of NYC?” I knew deep down, this was the next chapter and a big one at that. Change is never an easy ride but I think in acknowledging one’s desire for it, you live your way through it more gracefully...fully and intentionally aware of its impact.
Just this past Monday, with 41 boxes, 2 couches and a bed in tow, we bid farewell to downtown life as we knew it. I patted my tummy with tears in my eyes as I shut the door to 7B thinking to myself, “yes, it is time…”
Bring on the 530pm dinners with a little bubba strapped to my husband’s chest. Bring on the evening strolls on Riverside Drive. Bring on all that is to come (sleepless nights, 4am feedings, Mommy & Me swimming lessons!).
Yes and thank you. Two very important things to remember to say as one door shuts and another one is just beginning to open…
(*Thank you sweet Trish for graciously opening up your platform to us other blogettes out there this week! I hope we made you proud and that you’re enjoying your New Jersey bagel and cream cheese as we speak;)
Guest post by Megan:
As I write this post, I feel slightly like an identify thief – I’m not only writing for Trish’s blog, but I’m also lying in her comfy bed since I’ve taken over her apartment this week while she’s away. On my walk back from work this evening, I even stopped by the bay to take in the view and think grateful thoughts for all things great, as Trish often does. What can I say? Like cousin, like… cousin?
The thing I love the most about Trish’s blog is that it’s my positive and gentle reminder each day to keep things in perspective and be thankful for the things in my life that are actually pretty amazing.
As I was sitting by the bay trying to think of what to write here, I decided I couldn’t resist my always-present urge to tell you how grateful I am for all things green. Since most of you don’t know me, you probably haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing me not-so-subtly cringe when someone throws a recyclable into the trash or spits their gum out into a patch of grass (totally not cool!). Caring for the environment has been engrained in my brain since childhood. I kid you not, when I was in elementary school, I was in a club called “Pollution Control Patrol.” No, seriously, I was - I still have my hand-painted re-useable grocery bag to prove it! Anyway, now I’m currently studying and working in the environmental field (“field” meaning both discipline and actual fields – today I got to wear my new steel-toed boots and hard hat at work!), so I’m forced to constantly think about the impact humans have on the environment around us.
So, I won’t lecture you about how you should care for Mother Earth. A lot of people have different passions and causes they care about, and that’s honestly great. But, since you’re still reading (hopefully?), I’ll at least give you a few things to think about and to be oh so grateful for:
- Access to drinking water. So many people in the world don’t have easy access to fresh water; many need to travel for hours or even days to get it. Can you imagine? I can’t think of anything more crucial to our well-being than water. I am SO grateful that it flows freely of my tap drinkable and in (relatively) abundant supply. The new documentary Last Call at the Oasis (http://www.takepart.com/lastcall/) is really interesting and addresses the current and future challenges associated with drinking water supplies around the world. I recommend checking it out!
- Wastewater treatment. (That’s right, I said wastewater on Trish’s blog. She’s going to kill me!) This topic, related to the one above, is one most people prefer not to think about, but again, it’s SO crucial to a world with 7 billion people. Waterborne diseases kill millions of people (sadly, mostly children) around the world each year. The book The Big Necessity (http://rosegeorge.com/site/books/the-big-necessity), sent to me by a good friend who knows me ridiculously well (thanks Sari!), is super interesting and extremely informative. I’ll admit that whenever I was reading this book in public, people gave me strange looks (the cover shows a roll of toilet paper! Ha!). So check out the book, and I promise you, you will be so grateful for wastewater engineers!
- Clean air and clear skies. I was incredibly lucky to be able to travel to China a few months ago for a class in grad school. While there, I observed what everyone that visits China observes: poor air quality. Visibly bad air quality. This obviously isn’t just in China – Los Angeles, CA; Santiago, Chile; and New Delhi, India are also very bad, to name a few, and people get sick because of it. According to the World Health Organization (WHO, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/index.html), outdoor air pollution in cities causes over one million deaths worldwide per year. Clean air to breathe should be a basic human right, and poor air quality affects everyone. Much of the pollution comes from vehicle traffic, so riding your bike and using public transportation are great ways to help make us all a little healthier :)
Well, now you know what environmental engineers spend their days thinking about! Now for some pretty nature pictures as my way of thanking you for making it this far in reading my post, and as my way of trying to convince you to love the Earth as much as I do ;)
Desert in Peru
Glacier near Homer, Alaska
An adorable penguin pair in South Africa
Awesome sunset in the lovely state of New Jersey
A pretty tree in Virginia
So, take a minute today to enjoy your natural surroundings and your delicious, safe drinking water and clean air, and heck, you might as well go all out and hug a tree! :) Thanks for reading and thanks Trish for inviting me to share!
Guest Post by Aubrey H.
Until a few months ago, when I read an article
shared by an especially close friend of mine, I thought I was in the minority. I know many women my age who have expressed an internal yearning for coupling, which never seems to resound with me. Even my friend who shared the article had herself found someone with whom she presumably would like to spend a life time. In the piece, Katie Bolick details a disconnect between the reality of working women and the ubiquitous pressures of traditional gender roles. In doing so, she examines the anxieties that arise when a woman privileges independence over “happily ever after.” One sentence in particular struck a chord. Bolick laments, “My problem, as I saw it, lay in wanting two incompatible states of being—autonomy and intimacy.”
Of course, this got me to thinking about my own struggles with relationships. As I have embarked on my singlehood at the ripe old age of 28—going on 29—I find that I straddle two mutually exclusive paths. One which requires a marriage and one which requires a substantial stash of condoms and an endless litany of justifications.
Now, let me just clarify here that I do not wish to pursue a life of rampant promiscuity; nor do I mind explaining that my obtaining a doctorate has taken precedence over the gender script I choose not to follow. Rather, I prefer to pursue autonomy, absolute agency even. Next month marks one year since I finally decided to move in by myself. That makes me one of many (32 million to be exact
) who are living solo in the U.S.
In my previous 27 years, I barely had enough personal space to breathe. I shared a room with my sister for a decade and a half. Four years in high school were spent in a “room of [my] own,” a transition which left me begging my little sister to spend the night. College came and went, but it was accompanied by my intense phobia of being left alone. I became ensnared in a deeply codependent relationship, my first love, in which my identity became his. I dreaded the holidays months in advance, but summer session hit me the hardest. I simply could not be left alone—I needed friends, a social event, a drink, something or someone to console me in his absence.
The fact was I had never learned how to be alone. I had never spent the time to sit with my own thoughts. Even my childhood and subsequent intimate relationships were entirely consumed in chaos. When it had been my choice to leave this environment, I flourished. When someone else had made that choice, which is what happened with the man whom I loved tirelessly for seven years, I collapsed. To be alone, in those days, meant to face my crippling loneliness. It meant to be alone with someone who had given her identity freely and unconditionally to someone else.
Last year, when I finally decided enough was enough, I conquered a once terrifying impossibility. I am the happiest I have ever been. At 28—not quite 29—I am finally learning to know and love myself
This brings me back to the anachronistic notion that women on the eve of turning 30 should begin looking for a relationship. Or she is told, at the very least, she should begin to question whether motherhood is a real possibility for her. The clock is ticking, after all.
Nearly a year ago, someone came into my life who would unselfishly love me as much as anyone deserves to be loved. Yet, I refused to relinquish my freedom. You see, the timing was all wrong, my clock isn't
ticking. Right now is not my time to couple; right now is my time to revel in solitude. Yes, I want to feel love again. I miss the closeness of love. I miss its intricacies and difficulties. I miss love for its ability to strip me down to nothing and build me into something at the same time.
But in this moment, despite persistent social pressure, I am content in romantic isolation. It is as much my choice as it is my fate to be alone. And so, I end by deferring to the beautiful and gracious Tricia DiGaetano: “Try to remember to love as much as you possibly can. If the train doesn’t stop at your platform, it’s simply not your train.” THANK YOU: Since this is a blog of gratitude, I'd like to extend a warm thank you to Tricia for letting me share a post with all of her amazing readers! xoxo
Guest Post by Brooke:
Regular readers of the Grateful Life should be very familiar with Trish's "Food for Thought" posts. These posts are often inspired by the board displayed prominently in the Weebly HQ kitchen, which Trish updates regularly with thought-provoking quotes to inspire and entertain the rest of the Weebly staff. I love this tradition for many reasons, but not least of which because I really love food. Like Really. Love. Food. I often wish I had more hobbies and passions, but food is one thing I can really engage in - both eating and cooking. And why do I love cooking? Because I get to create EXACTLY what I want to eat. What better way to turn around a bad day or place an exclamation point on a good day than creating your perfect meal at the end of it?
While I cook for myself a lot, what I really love is cooking for others. My favorite foods, my favorite people, some wine, AND the potential for some ego-boosting compliments over the meal? Yes please. One of my favorite people to cook for is none other than our blogger extraordinaire, Trish. For one, she is a vegetarian, so I am always pushing my boundaries on things to make for her, since I am a card-holding member of the meat-eating community. Second is the great conversation we always have over a meal and bottle (or 2) of wine - food WITH thought. But probably most importantly is Trish's earnest gratitude and praise for everything I've ever made for her - talk about an ego boost.! Thanks Trish.
So today I thought I would share some of Trish's favorite recipes I've made for her. I'm by no means a spectacular chef, but I do have a few recipes that have been very well-received or that I am well-known for, which I am happy to share with the Grateful Life faithful (photos courtesy of Trish):
#1. Cha Cha Cha Sangria.
This sangria is SO easy and so delicious. I actually recently gave this recipe to someone who works with Weebly to enter in her friends' yearly sangria contest, and she won! I can't throw a party anymore without making this, because I'm pretty sure it's half the reason anyone shows up.
- One bottle red wine (I usually use Syrah)
- One bottle white wine (I usually use Pinot Grigio)
- One cup sugar
- One orange, cut up
- One lemon, cut up
- Other seasonal fruit (optional)
1. Combine red wine, white wine, sugar, lemon, and orange in large bowl or pitcher. Stir well. Refrigerate 6+ hours or preferably, overnight.
2. Before serving, add additional fruit and brandy to taste. Serve over ice. Enjoy!
#2. Guacamole (serves 6-8).
I know everyone has a favorite guacamole recipe, but I stand by mine, and it gets raves every time. The secret? Garlic! Most people put onions in their guacamole but not garlic. I load mine up. Mmm, mmm.... I might need to make an excuse to make this tonight! Guacamole is literally my favorite food of all time. This recipe is an approximation since I have never actually created a recipe, I usually just throw a bunch of stuff into a bowl.
- 4 avocados
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- Fresh lime juice
- Fresh pico de gallo, either store-bought or homemade (tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapenos, and lime juice)
1. In a medium bowl, mash up the avocados. I usually leave the guacamole slightly chunky as opposed to completely smooth, but this is chef's preference. Add lime juice and garlic and mix well.
2. Slowly add some pico de gallo to the bowl - you can add as little as much as you want.
3. Add salt. Taste. Add more salt. Taste. Repeat. Obviously you don't want to over-salt your guacamole, but I find that you always have to add more than you expect. Pro tip: almost any mediocre guacamole can be made better by adding more salt.
4. Serve with tortilla chips, or even healthier, with carrot, celery, and jicama sticks. Eat!
#3. Hawaiian Crunch Halibut (serves 4).
This is one of my new favorite recipes. I am not a BIG fish-eater, but I love it when it is prepared in a way that it doesn't, well, taste like fish. Halibut is such a yummy, mild fish, and this recipe manages to make fish feel both healthy and indulgent.
For the fish:
- 2 lbs. fresh halibut, cut into fillets (I bet tilapia or another mild white fish would work too)
- Appx. 10 saltine crackers
- Appx. 15 macadamia nuts
- Panko bread crumbs
- 1-2 cups flour, enough to coat fillets
- 1-2 eggs, beaten
- Seasonings, such as garlic salt, pepper, lemon pepper, etc.
- 2-3 tablespoons oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon onion OR garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups milk or half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1-2 lemons
1. Chop the macadamia nuts into small pieces and put into a clean plastic bag, like a zip lock. Crunch up the saltines and add them to the bag; crunch the nuts and crackers even more once in the bag. Add 1-2 cups of panko crumbs. Finally, add the seasonings to taste, then lay the crumbs flat on a large plate.
2. Pour the flour onto a flat plate and the egg into a medium bowl. Melt the oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.
3. Dregde the fillets fully in the flour first, then the egg dip. Finally, roll the fillets around the panko/nut/cracker mixture until fully coated. Then place on the frying pan, and brown on all sides - not just the top and bottom. Expected cooking time is approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Once browned, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
4. For the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir in the parsley flakes, seasonings, and sugar. Mix well, then slowly whisk in the milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Add the juice of one lemon and stir, and heat for one more minute.
5. To serve, place a spoonful of sauce on each plate, then place a fillet on top of the sauce. Cover generously with more sauce and another squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately!
I hope you will try these and enjoy! One of the things I love most about cooking is that each chef can take one recipe and make it theirs - play around with these! Once you have the basic ingredients you can't go wrong.
And now, for some real Food for Thought, here are a few of my favorite quotes:
"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." - George Bernard Shaw
"I have found that if you love life, life will love you back."
- Arthur Rubinstein.
"Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so." - Robert Green Ingersoll
Guest Post by Nicole W.
I am a wuss, a scaredy cat, nervous jervous, to name just a few ways I’d describe myself. I am NO adrenaline junkie - often sending my boyfriend youtube clips of adventures gone wrong with subject lines like “Why I’ll never skydive” attaching the video of that granny who nearly slipped out of her harness, whew...
Never mind skydiving, I don’t even particularly like leaving my comfort zone. This proved all too true when I attempted to tackle the adolescent milestone of college-ing. Applying and getting accepted to Penn State was about the most exciting part of the whole process. Not Frat Parties nor Football Games. Nope. I didn’t stay there long enough to experience any of the typical collegiate rights of passage. After a six week Summer Session, wherein I drove home every weekend (sidenote: My dad sat me down for a conversation, informing me that "State College is not a Commutable distance"), my mom and older sister drove me back to (Not-So)Happy Valley for the start of the Fall Semester to help move me into my new dorm. An experience most kids look forward to from the day they receive their acceptance letter, and likely much before. I cried the whole 3+ hour car ride - I cried and cried and cried. I panicked. I freaked.
Penn State 1: Noodle: 0.
Two days later my dad and stepmom drove up and I re-packed to join them for the most relieving drive back to the comfort of Ardmore. Relieved, but embarrassed, defeated, deflated, insecure, and generally wondering why everyone else was so excited for this next step and I was less-than-ready. I enrolled in a local satellite branch of PSU where I wouldn’t lose the tuition money that had already been paid and the credits earned from my Summer Session. During this time, I lived at home with my mom. My.Premiere.Happy.Place.
While my friends were spending their weekends (and probably most weekdays too) boozing, my social
calendar was filled with babysitting. My mom and I had a routine that worked, I still say she is the best roommate I ever had. I never wanted to leave my moms house, it was perfectly comfortable in all the right ways.
Finally, after about 3 years of kickin’ it with my mom, I moved out (mostly thanks to some necessary
pushing by my Stepmom) all the way to Manayunk. A whopping 10 minute drive from home. This seemed doable - baby steps. I was able to gain some independence - yet I could still see my mom for dinner any night of the week, or pick an afternoon we were both free to grocery shop together. This blissful setup lasted just under two years.
The next step seemed like the most gigantic move I would ever
make. I moved with my boyfriend at the time who was offered a role at his company’s San Francisco office. I mean, is there anyplace further
from Philadelphia than San Francisco?! Oh yeah, Australia...but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The move to San Francisco was a weepy one. It was hard to see anything on the cross country drive through my tears. I was scared. Was I making a giant error? Would I ever see my mom again? Would I make new friends? Where would I live? Where would I work? Just a few concerns running rampant through my worrisome mind.
The answer to those questions are:
- No, not an error at all!
- Yes, my mom and I managed to see each other almost every eight weeks, alternating visits between East Coast and West.
- Yes, I made AMAZING friends. Friends of a lifetime.
- I found a gem of an apartment in a gem of a neighborhood.
- I landed a great gig nannying some super cute babies - who ended up being the catalyst to my greatest move yet.
When I lived in the Marina neighborhood that Trish so divinely described a few weeks back, I rarely left the 10 block radius that got me down to Crissy Field, and over to the Presidio and up to the top of Cow Hollow, sometimes venturing as far up as Pac Heights....rarely.
I love the comfort of routine. While some crave a cocktail at the end of the week and letting their hair down on the dancefloor - I crave putting my hair up in a messy bun and curling up with my book and pot of ginger tea.
While my comfort zones have always kept me safe, I had to dip my toes in the water before I could dive in. I have no choice but to believe that everything happens in its right time. I wasn’t ready to move ALL those drivable
hours to State College, and I knew that about myself. I trusted my instincts and felt genuinely to my core that it wasn’t the right time/place for me. But when presented with the opportunity to hop a 24 hour plane ride to Australia just a few years later, I dove in.
Now I live in Australia. I live
in Australia. I
live in Australia. I can retrace my steps that got me here, some of it may have been luck, but I’d like to believe I played a bit of a role in manifesting this destiny. To all you faithful Grateful Lifers, you understand when I say that I found the courage to say YES
to this Australian adventure by channeling my inner-Trish.
My mom’s childrearing mantra has always been that she hoped to give us Roots + Wings. While my roots have been undeniably strong, it was the wings I was worried about. I never thought I’d spread these wings and fly - but I have, and it’s scary, but more than that, it’s pretty darn exciting. Am I gonna bungee jump? No probably not. But will I try grocery shopping in a new neighborhood? Sure.
Ta (Australian for Thanks),
ps - MEGA-thanks to Trish for allowing me the opportunity to share a bit of my story with her amazingly kind and devoted followers (that's you guys!). Also, If you're interested in checking out a bit of my Australian Adventures thus far: Noodle Down Under
So this is love...
My best guy friend is getting married and I get to rub elbows with some of Penn State's finest...I love today :)
I'm off for 10 days of family time. Never fear! I've lined up some stellar guest bloggers to keep you riding the gratitude waves in my absence and maybe...just maybe...I'll hop on for a post or two :) Once again I ask that you treat my guests with the same level of kindness you so wonderfully extend to me. I super appreciate it!
Cheers to sun, sand and a drink in my hand. BIG exhale.
Awesome flight surprise...whole row to myself!! Time for a 5 hour nap...